Have you heard of Breakaway?
Breakaway is one of Amazon Game Studio’s first original Independent Projects (or IP). In 2014, Amazon acquired the streaming platform Twitch for approximately $1 billion. Even before that acquisition, the titan of online commerce has been developing the perfect game for streaming and spectating. That game is Breakaway, a four-vs-four “mythological sports brawler”. To explain it simply: think rugby meets Dota. Breakaway aims to be the king of spectator eSports.
Amazon has also announced many perks for broadcasters and spectators alike. Broadcasters will be able to mine various stats from the game and project them on their meta stream. They can also host games for spectators, and will be provided access to a number of other tools to interact with their audience.
Let’s talk about these tools for a moment. A feature called Stream+ lets viewers earn loyalty points through watching Breakaway streams, participating in polls, and various other ways of engaging with the stream. More points can be earned by wagering on the match outcome. Earning enough points will land the viewer a spot on the loyalty point scoreboard. Perhaps more appealing are the skins and other content that will only be unlockable through accumulating loyalty points. In addition to the aforementioned stat mining features, broadcasters will be able to customize their overlays using HTML5. Broadcaster Spotlight will let everyone know they are playing with someone who is streaming the game and how many people are watching it. Don’t crumble under the pressure!
With that understood, let’s talk about this: what is Breakaway? The game pits two teams against each other in a fast-paced, hair-on-fire fight to get a ball (called the relic) into the other team’s goal. Rounds can also end when an entire team is wiped out simultaneously, or when time runs out. Players had the chance to experience Breakaway in the open alpha this weekend. Currently (as it is still in a pre-released stage) there are only seven heroes to pick from. Heroes are divided into several categories such as tank, support, shooter, melee damage, etc. Heroes range in difficulty from one star to three star and comes with a host of abilities unique to them. Each hero can also create “buildables”, which are structures that either aid your teammates with mobility and support or hinder your enemies by lobbing damage at them or impeding their progress.
The rounds are quick and hectic, but there is a lot of decision-making that goes into a successful match. Team composition matters, character equipment matters, and strategy matters. Where do I put my buildables? Should I focus on taking out the enemy buildables or is there a higher priority target? Is it safe to go for the relic? These questions, and so much more, are nessasary to consider for an efficient and, ultimately, victorious match.
So far Breakaway has laid a fantastic foundation for the masses to gather around and cheer on their favorite streamer, and even jump into the fray with them. But, it continues to leave a lot to be desired at this stage in development. Control input is slow, heroes are unbalanced, and unavoidable, drawn out replays make the gameplay drag on and on. Feedback forums are full of complaints citing headaches from the Motion Blur.
Despite these setbacks, gameplay is quite addicting, and certainly fun to watch. Amazon set out to create a game that will encourage broadcaster-streamer interaction on many fronts. While Breakaway still has miles to go development-wise, this first alpha test weekend has shown that Amazon’s vision has promise. For the time being, the game is only available for PC, but its simple control scheme and gameplay would translate easily to console. For anyone interested in following along with Breakaway’s development and future alpha test weekends, check out Amazon Game Studio’s website.